Nag’s Head, NC
Helen (adorable wife) and I have never been to the Outer Banks and knew this was the opportunity to change that. So, after a quick run thru the Marine Base at Cherry Point, NC for ice, essentials, and McDonald’s for breakfast, we set out for Nag’s Head on a beautiful day and a lovely three hour plus drive along the North Carolina coast.
Our first stop in Nag’s Head was at Jeannette’s Pier to stretch our legs and get our bearings. Jeannette’s Pier is sort of the focal point of the town and is a large pier with numerous displays in the Visitor Center relating to the environment and aquatic life. On this day the Visitor Center was BUSY. There are several fee based activities available on the pier including fishing for one day (or more), fishing equipment rental (one day or more also), annual passes, or a simple walk on the pier. We decided that the two dollar pass to walk was what we needed, but the line to pay was slow as it seemed every group in line wanted a different option and the two cashiers were having a time of it keeping up with who wanted what. They seemed relieved that we only wanted to walk!
The wait was worth it…Even though Nag’s Head was more built up than we expected, the view of the shoreline from the pier is still a sight worth seeing especially on a day like this one. There were a lot of people fishing – some serious, but lots of rookies – and we saw fish being caught. One gentleman hooked a large Skate (Sting Ray) and was having great difficulty getting it under control. He attracted a sizable crowd of onlookers. We Eased Along slowly to the end and back and chatted with a few anglers along the way.
We returned to the Visitor Center and spent a little time at the aquatic tanks holding a variety of live fish found in the area…very well done.
As we left the Visitor Center our attention was drawn to the several windmills posted along the pier which were in full motion, and were reminded of the reason that Aviation was born here. The wind…
Kill Devil’s Hill – Kitty Hawk, NC
On a cold, blustery day in December, 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright, two bicycle mechanics from Ohio, successfully completed an “experiment” and fulfilled a lifelong dream of sending man into the air to join the birds. In doing so, they changed forever the world in which we live.
As a tribute to those to men and their unconquerable determination and faith, the Wright Brothers Memorial was established at the site of that first flight in Kitty Hawk, NC. We had to see it.
The Wright Brothers Memorial is a National Park just a few miles north of Nag’s Head, NC. When arrived the Park Ranger took one look at us and, to our utter amazement, guessed that we were over 62 years old. He then asked if we had a National Park Senior Pass to which we replied that we did not. He explained that for ten dollars and an ID he would issue us a lifetime pass to any National Park and we also would qualify us for other discounts as available. Here is a link to a post on the Senior Pass, and the Passport book…it’s a great deal.
The Visitor Center was buzzing with activity on this hot, humid, but otherwise glorious day. Once inside we viewed the many photographs and other displays that chronicled the incredible journey of these two men that led to this awesome achievement. We were led to a rather large auditorium with three or four rows of chairs on two sides of a full size replica of the airplane that made that first flight. The chairs were filling up fast for one of the afternoon presentations so we grabbed two in the middle of the front row. The presentation was due to start in about ten minutes so we took advantage to the time to scroll through our phones to catch up on email, Facebook posts, etc. Technology…thank goodness the Wright Brothers didn’t have these distractions!
Soon, a young Park Ranger wearing the name tag of Hillary Fine walked up beside the replica beaming with a huge smile and gave out a very energetic “Hellooo everyone”. She had us from that “hello”. For the next thirty minutes or so, Ranger Fine, without notes or an occasional moment to gather her thoughts, verbally drew a picture for us of the effort these men gave in order to send man into the sky. The story is an overwhelming one, and you could have heard a pin drop in that auditorium.
When the story was completed we were directed to the original airfield behind the Visitor Center to observe the granite markers marking the lift-off point and the finishing points for each of the four flights made on that December day. I’m sure that I didn’t know how short the first flight actually was, but I was dumbfounded when I learned that it only went 120 feet and lasted a total of twelve seconds! We walked to the marker at the end of that first flight about the time a jet flew over and realized how far we’ve come. The last marker, representing the fourth and final flight was 852 feet away, and that flight took a whopping 59 seconds. By then, the brothers were apparently feeling pretty confident and planned to fly to a point four miles away, but we were told that a gust of wind came up, caught their plane at rest, and damaged it beyond repair. The Wright Brothers returned home in time for Christmas.
We left the airfield to go to the monument on Kill Devil’s Hill, a minute’s drive away. To reach the monument, we had to walk up the hill, and even though it was pretty hot and steamy, we decided we had to go for it. After all, if the Wright Brothers and a few assistants could carry a glider up the hill for over one thousand experimental flights, we surely could get up there with an IPhone!
The Memorial was impressive, and the view of the airfield and surrounding coastline was stunning on this beautiful day. The wind never subsided…
We left the Memorial, but the impressive achievement that took place here will stay with us forever. I’ll never board a plane again without thinking that the trip I’m about to take began with a twelve second flight.
We left having been both amazed and inspired. Time to be Easin’ Along…